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It's a cool and lovely day in Brandon - overcast, humid, trying to decide if it wants to rain. "Migraine weather", according to the better half, who sees sparks and auras and knows all about migraines. The cats are asleep together on a pile of fresh laundry, I'm eating bad cold pizza and enjoying the rare delight of a Saturday without the buzz of lawn mower engines.

A New Age shop has opened in town, and the better half has been working there since before yesterday's grand opening, exercising her formidable retail skills. So far it's all paid in barter, which means the house shall never want for scented candles. But soon actual money will be changing hands.

I am the first to be perplexed at the economics of New Age stores - they are thick on the ground in Vermont, and apparently all thriving. I can think of two in Middlebury, a good ten in Burlington, countless other scattered from here to Franconia. They are all owned by and cater to people for whom money is a material encumberment of little value, yet they seem to rake it in by the bushel. To me it's a mystery surpassed only by the thirteen adjacent pizzerias in Grenoble, France.

It's the same story with hair salons. You can find one on every corner, whether dirt road or paved. It seems that Vermonters love their yoga and haircuts, and don't particularly care to eat a taco.

In visiting the better half at work, I've noticed that our town has become infested with giant fiberglass pigs. I saw one of them au naturel a few weeks back, poking out of the landlord's car, but now they have all been decorated and set out in the street by Brandon store owners. These pigs are the culmination of a trend we imported from the Swiss, and the fact that they're in Brandon means that they're probably everywhere else now, too. I understand the idea of adding a touch of whimsy to urban areas where people are unlikely ever to see an unsliced farm animal. But it's harder to defend in Vermont, where the livestock are constantly underfoot. Fiberglass hipsters would have been more intriguing.

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